Former senator and now rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday disclosed that Janet Lim Napoles identified 16 senators who allegedly received kickbacks from their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, correcting his earlier statement that 13 senators were implicated in the scam.
Lacson had said the number of senators in the pork barrel list given to him by Napoles through her husband Jimmy was enough to constitute a quorum.
“What I said was wrong when I said enough to constitute a quorum. Actually [it’s] enough to ratify a treaty,” Lacson told reporters in a chance interview.
There are 24 senators, and it would take 16 senators to ratify a treaty. The minimum number required to constitute a quorum is 13.
So far, only three senators—Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada—have been charged with plunder at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Revilla said he received information that Malacanang is rushing the filing of a complaint against them at the Sandiganbayan.
“I have received information that because of calls for the DOJ [Department of Justice] to release the list, Malacanang is now rushing the filing of our cases,” the senator told reporters.
He said the Ombudsman may file the complaint on Friday or early next week to divert the attention of the public from the Napoles list.
Revilla said with the way things are happening, it is clear that he and the other senators charged will not be accorded justice.
Days after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced that she got a signed affidavit from Napoles as well as a list of lawmakers who reportedly got huge commissions from projects funded by their pork barrel, Lacson came out to say that he got the same list in March, several weeks before de Lima got hers. He said he was also given a USB stick that he initially thought contained documents.
Lacson said he does not know why Napoles gave him a copy of the list. He also is not aware if the jailed businesswoman gave another copy of her list to Sandra Cam who earlier this week said there are about 100 legislators in the document.
The former senator said he was told that he had the only copy of the pork list.
Lacson, an ally of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, added that he did not inform Malacanang about the list because he believed that the documents were not complete.
He said he already asked for affidavits, exact special release allotment order numbers and supporting documents.
”I wouldn’t just bite on the basis of the mere say-so of Napoles,” Lacson noted.
Lacson also downplayed concerns that Napoles may be playing games.
”She’s the one in jail, after all,” he said.
”I know how to evaluate documents. She cannot trick me because I really asked for documents. It cannot be say-so, it cannot be narration, it cannot be unsigned affidavits,” Lacson added.
De Lima has refused to release details of Napoles’ sworn statement despite the clamor from lawmakers that she make the documents public amid fears that it could be sanitized.
But Lacson believes that de Lima will not clean up the list to exclude allies of the President.
“Knowing her, she would not clean up the list,” he said.
Still, Lacson noted that he will “call the attention of authorities” if the DOJ sanitized the list.
At the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora said Napoles should be summoned to identify the lawmakers who benefited from the PDAF scam.
“Why not [have her here in Congress]? The whole objective is to get to the truth. Right now, we’re getting different versions of the truth,” Zamora also told reporters.
He supported a resolution filed by Rep. Tobias Tiangco seeking a congressional inquiry into the matter.
Tiangco’s resolution, Zamora said, should be referred to the House Committee on Good Government or the House justice panel.
“That would be the proper venue to call not just Napoles but the other whistleblowers,” he added.
Zamora urged de Lima to reveal the contents of Napoles’ affidavit.
“The best thing to do is to just show [the list]. The longer you talk about it and you don’t see it, speculations will only grow,” he said.
Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1-BAP party-list agreed with Zamora, saying de Lima’s apparent reluctance to bare the list already puts her in a bind.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI